Full Container Load

Maybe your business is growing and you need to start shipping a FCL instead of a LCL (less than container load). Or maybe you have a large, one time shipment of some specialized cargo. Whatever the reasons, it pays to understand that containers used for shipping ocean going freight come in a variety of sizes and configurations. 

Let’s start with the most common types of containers and then look at some specialized containers for unique applications:

  • 20 FT General – this container is probably the most frequently used for small business owners. It is 5.89 meters long, 2.35 meters wide and 2.36 meters high. Properly loaded, it can hold about 33 cubic meters of cargo.
  • 20 FT High Cube – This container has the same length and width as the general model, but is .43 meters higher and can hold 37 cubic meters of cargo.
  • 40 FT General – This container has the same width and height as the 20 FT General but is a little bit more than twice as long and therefore is able to hold 2X times the cargo at 66 cubic meters.
  • 40 FT High Cube – As with the 20 FT high cube, this option is .43 meters higher than the 40 FT general and can hold up to 76 Cubic Meters of cargo.

The 20 FT configurations can hold up to 21700 KG’s by weight and the 40 FT containers can hold up to 26500 KG’s.

Other options to considered for FCL:

Reinforced Container 

There are reinforced models that can hold additional weight but they can be more expensive and one needs to consider weight restrictions for trucks that may have to pick up and deliver them. Additionally, high cube options are not available for all ports of departure and destinations. 

While the above 20 and 40 FT configurations account for a large percentage of all ocean going freight containers, there are additional options or modifications of these layouts that can be used for odd shaped, extra heavy or frozen cargo. 

Flat rack designs

Flat rack designs come with or without sides. These containers are typically used for loads that are too large to fit inside of a 20 or 40 FT enclosed container and will require additional charges.

Open top containers

Open top containers come in both 20 & 40 FT sizes. These types of containers are used when the cargo will need to be removed with a crane. Again, this type of container is not available in all ports and will require additional costs. 

Refrigerated containers

Refrigerated containers, or “reefers” come in both 20 & 40 FT sizes. Each refrigerated container can be set at a desired temperature. The inside of a reefer unit will be somewhat smaller than a normal container as the sides are thicker due to insulation. 

If you need to consider ocean freight shipping of an FCL configuration. The Eagles Air & Sea Ltd. Group will be happy to consult with you to understand what you are shipping, where it is going and what will be the right type of container for you to use. 

Frequent Asked Questions 

What are the advantages of FCL vs. LCL?

The best answer is “it depends”.  FCL or Full Container Load is cheaper per cubic meter of space but you have to rent the entire container. This is only cost effective when the size of your cargo approaches the capacity of a 20 or 40 foot container. For smaller shipments, LCL or less than a container load is usually going to be cheaper but you will be sharing the space of the container with other freight.

How much freight will fit in a FCL?

The best way to understand the size of 40 and 20 ft containers is to know that a 40 ft. container is about the size of a semi – tractor trailer and of course, a 20 ft. container will be half that big.

Are there weight restrictions in a full container load?

There are, but a good rule of thumb is 25,000 KG max for a 40 foot container. The main consideration is often the weight restrictions for roads in the destination country as the container will likely travel from the port to its final destination on a truck.

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